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91st Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 10-June 1, 2008

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Stage 12 - Thursday, May 22: Forlì - Carpi, 172km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Susan Westemeyer

14:01 CEST   
Welcome back to today's Giro coverage. Stage 12 is one for the men with the fast legs – if they still have any legs left after those climbs yesterday! Climbing is one thing they won't have to do today, for sure. There are barely any bumps along the 172 kms. There is a chance that an escape group could come through, but we would be extremely surprised if it ended with anything other than a mass sprint today.

14:06 CEST   
Here's the situation so far: Dionisio Galparsoro of Euskaltel jumped out shortly after the start on a solo flyer. After 10 kilometres he had a lead of nearly three minutes. No one seems to be interested in joining him, and it is certainly much too early for anyone to think of chasing him down.

14:14 CEST   
We haven't yet heard whether anyone was not at the start this morning. Here is the list of those who as of yesterday evening were out of the race:

Stage 1 DNS: Maximiliano Richeze (CSF Group Navigare)
Stage 2 DNS: Igor Astarloa (Team Milram)
Stage 2 DNF: David Zabriskie (Slipstream Chipotle – H30)
Stage 3 DNF: Bradley McGee (Team CSC)
Stage 4 DNF: Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC)
Stage 4 DNF: Dominique Cornu (Silence-Lotto)
Stage 4 DNF: Tom Stubbe (Française des Jeux)
Stage 5 DNS: Nick Nuyens (Cofidis)
Stage 6 DNF: Enrico Poitschke (Team Milram)
Stage 6 DNF: Kevin De Weert (Cofidis)
Stage 6 DNF: Rene Mandri (AG2R La Mondiale)
Stage 7 DNF: Alberto Loddo (Tinkoff Credit Systems)
Stage 7 DNF: Yauheni Hutarovich (Française des Jeux)
Stage 7 DNF: Aitor Galdos (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
Stage 7 DNF: Patrick Calcagni (Barloworld)
Stage 8 DNF: Steve Morabito (Astana)
Stage 8 DNF: Sergio Ghisalberti (Milram)
Stage 9 DNF: Bingen Fernandez Bustinza (Cofidis)
Stage 9 DNF: Filippo Savini (CSF Group Navigare)
Stage 10 DNS: Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff Credit Systems)
Stage 10 DNS: Magnus Backstedt (Slipstream)
Stage 10 DNS: Steve Zampieri (Cofidis)
Stage 11 DNS: Francesco Bellotti (Barloworld)
Stage 11 DNS: Andrea Moletta (Gerolsteiner)
Stage 11 DNS: Geert Steurs (Silence - Lotto)
Stage 11 DNF: Volker Ordowski (Gerolsteiner)
Stage 11 DNF: Mauro Santambrogio (Lampre)
Stage 11 DNF: Mauricio Soler (Barloworld)
Stage 11 DNF: Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis)

14:19 CEST   
Maglia rosa jersey holder Giovanni Visconti went to hospital to have his left elbow and right wrist x-rayed after crashing in yesterday's stage. We are still trying to figure how he fell, to achieve that combination of injuries. No word yet on the outcome of his hospital visit.

Giovanni Visconti still holds the leader's jersey, even though he was struggling and crashing yesterday
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

14:24 CEST   
Our man at the race, Gregor Brown, sends us this medical report on Astana's Levi Leipheimer, who also went down yesterday: "Levi has a bruised and grazed right cheek-bone plus a bruised right elbow."

14:26 CEST    42km/130km to go
Galparsoro has managed to build up a lead of 8'35. The peloton has absolutely no interest in chasing him at this point.

14:31 CEST   
We have only one birthday cake to cut today. Laurent Mangel of AG2R turns 27. He was in that long breakaway yesterday, and ended up finishing fifth.

14:33 CEST    47km/125km to go
Galparsoro just keeps motoring along – he now has a lead of 10'20!

14:38 CEST   
Speaking of birthdays, High Road's Mark Cavendish turned 23 yesterday. He didn't even think of trying to take a stage win,though, with all those climbs. He finished in the gruppetto, 21.54 down, but at least he finished! Today should be much more to his taste and we expect to see the speedy young Manxman in the thick of it today at the finish – if not up ahead of everyone else.

14:44 CEST   
Galparsoro, 29, turned pro in 2003 with Euskaltel. He rode for Team Kaiku in 2005-2006, before returning to Euskaltel. In 2005 he won a stage in both Asturias and the Hessen Rundfahrt. So far this year his best finish was sixth in the GP Llodio.

14:48 CEST    55km/117km to go
And the lead just continues to grow and grow. It is now up to exactly 14 minutes.

Dioni Galparsoro wasted no time today and soon had a double-digit lead. Will the peloton miscalculate today and Galparsoro succeed?
Photo ©: Monika Prell
(Click for larger image)

14:53 CEST   
One of the riders who is now out of the race is Gerolsteiner's Andrea Moletta. The team took him out after his father was stopped on his way to the Giro by the Italian anti-doping investigators. He was in a car with two other people, and they were found to have a lot of Viagra with them – either 82 tablets or 82 packages, depending on which source you read.

14:57 CEST   
Today's stage makes a big loop around the city of Bologna. It is the home of the oldest university in the world, the “Alma Mater Studirorum”, founded in 1088.

14:58 CEST   
Bologna is famous for its food. In America it may be best known for the lunch meat that carries its name, but elsewhere it is known for the meat-and-tomato Bolognese sauce, served over spaghetti or other pasta.

15:07 CEST    67km/105km to go
Is Galparsoro giving out already? His lead is dropping, now down to 11'50. Liquigas and Milram are leading the chase at the head of the peloton.

15:12 CEST   
Our man at the race, Gregor Brown, says that they got off under sunny skies today, but shortly thereafter the heavens opened and the rain came down. It is not as bad as yesterday, though, as the road is flat and straight. The rain is off and on, and the road is drying quickly between showers.

Liquigas is helping to bring down the gap
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

15:15 CEST   
There is more to Bolognese cuisine than just that famous sauce. For example, cured pork products, such as prosciutto, mortadella and salami.

15:18 CEST    70km/102km to go
Looks like Galparsoro really is slowing down. His lead is now 10'00.

15:22 CEST   
Gregor Brown gives us another medical update. Silence-Lotto's Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen has pains in his left leg and shoulder. He really wants to stay in for the stages today and tomorrow, though.

Current race situation

  • Dionisio Galparsoro Martínez (Euskaltel - Euskadi)
  • Peloton at 10.00

15:24 CEST   
Galparsoro is out of the saddle as he rides along a straight road, lined with trees on both sides. His sunglasses are safely put on the back of his helmet. It is overcast and there is no need for sunglasses.

15:25 CEST   
As we mentioned earlier, yesterday was Mark Cavendish's birthday. He didn't celebrate it last night though, our man on the spot, Gregor Brown, says. The speedy youngster will have a belated celebration tonight and would dearly love to give himself the present of a stage win – or should we say another stage win? Remember, he already won the fourth stage, which was his first Grand Tour victory.

15:26 CEST    83km/89km to go
Galparsoro is still out there all alone, with only an eight minute lead.

15:28 CEST   
Bertolini is smiling. We may guess it is not because of his injuries, that he sustained yesterday and are taped up. But he still happy about his stage win yesterday.

15:28 CEST   
Galparsoro takes a sip from his bottle. He will need everything he can get, as the lead is down to 8'00. The peloton is more determined now, with the front third riding two or three wide, fairly stretched out and indicating a brisk, but not all-out pace.

15:30 CEST   
For the moment it is not raining, which is why Simoni has his rain jacket stuffed in his pocket and it is also why he has a smile on his face.

15:31 CEST   
A High Road and a Gerolsteiner rider are on the front of the peloton. They hope for Cavendish and Förtser today. Visconti is also bandaged up, but looks OK for the flat stage today, even though his upper body is slightly rocking left and right. It is no fun to ride when you hurt!

Team High Road's Mark Cavendish wants to celebrate another stage win. Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

15:34 CEST   
Alberto Contador snacks on a banana. Perhaps that is easier to hold with a broken elbow....

Liquigas moves up towards the front of the peloton, bringing up Daniele Bennati, who hopes to gather more points at the upcoming intermediate sprint.

15:36 CEST   
Some famous sports-related persons from Bologna are soccer referee Pierluigi Collina, skier Alberto Tomba, and race car driver Alex Zanardi.

15:38 CEST    98km/74km to go
The sun is out now and the riders can see their shadows, as they continue to chop down on the lead. 7'15 is all that the Spaniard has left. Aussie champ Matthew Lloyd is leading the bunch.

15:39 CEST   
US Champ Levi Leipheimer isn't too impressed with the moves made by Riccardo Riccò and Daniele Di Luca. They weren't serious, but just something for the TV cameras, he told Gregor Brown.

15:40 CEST   
The pace has increased even more. It is now single file, with Matthew Lloyd still leading the peloton and Quick Step ahead of their pink-clad Giovanni Visconti.

15:43 CEST   
To finish off our look at Bologna, here are a few local factories that produce vehicles you may have heard of: two-wheelers from Ducati, and four-wheelers from Lamborghini and Maserati. Not bad, at all!

15:45 CEST   
Davide Rebellin of Gerolsteiner doesn't look particularly happy. He is staying near the front of the peloton, as he usually does. Perhaps he is missing his friend and best helper, Andrea Moletta. Or perhaps he is wondering what has happened to the sun, which was out a few minutes ago but isn't now.

15:48 CEST   
Mark Cavendish seems to be the top name being mentioned for today's stage win. He told Gregor Brown that he likes today's finish, as it is twisty and turny. It won't suit Bennati, who likes a long straight lead-up, to build up his speed. Today the last turn is only 200 meters before the finish line.

Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) is close to the front to work for the team's sprinter, Robert Förster
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

15:51 CEST    108km/64km to go
Galparsoro unpacks something from aluminum foil and has a snack. His lead is now down to 6'52. Behind him, the peloton hits the feed zone and gathers up their yummies.

15:56 CEST   
The peloton is strung out single file now, as the lead has dropped under six minutes. They manoeuvre their way around another traffic circle, half going left, half going right.

15:56 CEST   
Galparsoro is looking rather grim and is probably wondering why he thought this was such a good idea.

16:02 CEST   
The sun is shining at the moment, but there are some very dark clouds lurking in the background.

16:07 CEST    109km/63km to go
The lead is down to 4'40 as the riders go through the blazing sunshine, Robbie McEwen looks very concentrated.

16:09 CEST   
"Astana is going very well, but yesterday there was not much to do," Di Luca, winner of last year's Giro, stated at the start of Thursday's stage to Carpi to Gregor Brown. "It was an useless stage for the classification [riders], one to tire the legs. The real Giro begins on Saturday."

Danilo Di Luca just changed bikes after a mechanical
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

16:13 CEST   
Danilo Di Luca pulls over to the side of the road and changes bikes. He quite calmly starts moving back up to the peloton. There's no need to panic right now.

Current race situation

  • Dionisio Galparsoro Martínez (Euskaltel - Euskadi)
  • Peloton at 4.40

16:16 CEST   
Galparsoro's orange kit co-ordinates nicely with the orange-red poppies blooming along the side of the road.

The race jury has decided, in light of the twisty finish and the possible rain, to make a slight change at the finish. The time will be decided at the three km mark. This will allow the sprinters to do their thing and hopefully the non-sprinters will be wise enough to hold themselves back and not get involved in any potential crashes.

16:19 CEST    115km/57km to go
Galparsoro has just over three minutes left of his lead now. Back in the peloton, Di Luca makes an extended but leisurely visit back to his team car.

16:20 CEST    124.3km/47.7km to go
Davide Rebellin is getting a delivery of water bottles. They probably don't contain the sponsor's bubbling water, though.

16:23 CEST   
The final 42 km and 195 meters of today's stage is the Italian marathon course, and it is dedicated to Olympian marathoner Dorano Pietri. Name doesn't ring a bell? He became famous in the 1908 Olympics in London.

It was an exceptionally hot July day, and the race didn't start until 2:30 p.m. Pietri moved into second place at the 39-km mark, with an enormous effort. He arrived at the stadium in a state of extreme fatigue and dehydration. He took the wrong path when he entered the stadium, and fell when officials tried to help him. They helped him up. This happened four more times before he finally crossed the finish line in first place.

A protest was immediately filed and he lost his medal, but he had his place in history.

16:25 CEST   
The riders back in the field are wearing their sunglasses, but the spectators at the finish are huddling under umbrellas.

Three minutes ahead of the pack, Galparsoro is seeing the first raindrops, and the road is wet for him.

16:27 CEST    128km/44km to go
The rain has hit the peloton and there is a flurry of activity to get jackets and vests. The gap is now about two and a half minutes, as Milram leads the wet charge.

16:29 CEST   
Another traffic circle, and once again safely negotiated. Everyone is going a little slower right now, not willing to take any chances on the wet pavement.

Galparsoro crosses under the intermediate sprint in rain which is getting heavier.

16:31 CEST    132km/40km to go
Welcome to Modena, perhaps best known as the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari, founder of the company that makes those sexy Italian sports cars. Will this inspire the riders to go a bit faster?

16:32 CEST   
Bennati and a few others pull out to pick up the remaining intermediate sprint points. Bennati takes the second place points, with the peloton crossing a few seconds later.

16:34 CEST   
For our European readers, Modena is also the home of the Panini sports stickers – sort of the European equivalent of baseball trading cards.

16:35 CEST   
The peloton has ridden into the heavy rain now. The sprinters are moving up to the front, just to be on the safe side. The peloton is filling the whole road, so things aren't too fast.

16:37 CEST    137km/35km to go
Galparsoro isn't moving along too fast right now, either. On the other hand, he has been out there by himself for 137 km. His lead is now 2'25. No rain cape or jacket for this doughty Spaniard, though!

16:40 CEST   
The speed has picked up now, and the peloton is strung out, but the riders are still being extra careful on the corners and traffic circles. Only 2'11 to go to the Euskaltel rider.

16:41 CEST   
A long-haired Silence-Lotto rider is leading the peloton, followed by a wet and unhappy looking Quick Step rider.

Current race situation

  • Dionisio Galparsoro Martínez (Euskaltel - Euskadi)
  • Peloton at 2.00

16:41 CEST   
A long-haired Silence-Lotto rider is leading the peloton, followed by a wet and unhappy looking Quick Step rider.

16:45 CEST    142km/30km to go
Galparsoro has now made it 142 km alone. How much longer will the peloton let him dangle there alone in front?

16:47 CEST   
The road is very wet as the field passes under the 30 km mark. There are a lot of very large puddles.

16:49 CEST   
There are now exactly 1140 metres between Galparsoro and the chasing peloton. And 1'15.

16:51 CEST    147km/25km to go
Galparsoro still alone, still in the rain, still riding on very wet roads, still lots of large puddles....

16:52 CEST    147km/25km to go
And the peloton, led by Quick Step, passes under the 25 km marker only 1'01 later.

16:56 CEST   
It could be a very interesting finale if the weather continues like this. It could also be a very dangerous one.

16:59 CEST   
It won't be much longer now. The vehicles between Galparsoro and the peloton have been taken out as his lead shrinks to some 50 seconds.

17:01 CEST   
But the good news is that it appears that the rain has stopped, at least for the moment. The finale is dry, too.

17:03 CEST   
The peloton has picked up its speed and is starting to spread out. It is about time they stop toying with Galparsoro and overtake him. Lampre and Milram are leading the chase. Is 37 year-old Erik Zabel looking for his chance today?

17:06 CEST    155km/17km to go
Only 38 seconds to go for our lonely fighter today.

17:07 CEST    157km/15km to go
Galparsoro passes under the 15 km marker on dry roads. The peloton can't be far back.

17:09 CEST   
A crash in the peloton. Half a dozen rides or so down, including Tony Martin, Nibali, Lorenzetto, Priamo.

17:10 CEST   
Lorenzetto of Lampre stayed down a long time but now is riding again slowly next to the team car, with this left pants leg ripped open.

17:11 CEST   
No sprint for Lorenzetto today, who is very beat up. The roads were dry at the crash scene, but now the rain has started again, and the road is very wet.

17:11 CEST   
Nibali is back in the bunch, which now has Galparsoro in sight.

17:12 CEST    160km/12km to go
Galparsoro looks back and sees the thundering horde. He knows now that the end is near.

17:13 CEST   
And that's it. His escape is over.

17:15 CEST    162km/10km to go
The sprinter teams move up to the front of the peloton. Marco Velo of Milram is hanging around the back of the peloton waiting for Erik Zabel who is coming up to the group alone. We don't know whether he was involved in the crash or not Now they have to work their way up to the front if they want to take part in the closing sprint.

17:16 CEST   
There is not enough rain for Bennati, so he sprays his face with his water bottle. At the back, Velo and Zabel tuck in behind the Milram team car.

17:18 CEST    166km/6km to go
High Road has moved up to the head of the peloton, with Cavendish in about 4th place. Zabel is still working on getting back.

17:19 CEST    167km/5km to go
High Road leads the way under the km marker and around a number of sharp curves. Zabel and Velo have caught the peloton. Will they still have enough left to contest the sprint?

17:20 CEST   
Gerolsteiner, which is now down to seven riders, moves up near the front. Robert Förster would like to add another Giro stage win to his collection.

17:21 CEST   
High Road and Gerolsteiner are leading the way, with a Tinkoff rider in the middle.

17:21 CEST   
Bennati is hanging on Cavendish's rear wheel.

17:22 CEST    170km/2km to go
A sharp left hand curve, and fortunately the sun is shining!

17:23 CEST   
Bettini is on Bennati's rear wheel.

17:23 CEST    171km/1km to go
Wiggins takes over the lead for his landsman Cavendish.

17:24 CEST   
A left hand turn, with High Road and Gerolsteiner fighting it out.

17:24 CEST   
Milram's Ongarato jumps first but Bennati shoots out.

17:24 CEST   
Photo finish! Bennati or Cavendish?

17:26 CEST   
Bennati led the final kms, but Cavendish came up at the end. Even looking at the finish photo, it looks like a tie. It will be a while before we know today's winner!

17:28 CEST   
Bennati has been declared the winner, with Cavendish second , and McEwen third.

17:28 CEST   
That was certainly an exciting finish! Join us again tomorrow for another mass sprint finish – we think!

Provisional results

1 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas
2 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team High Road
3 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Silence - Lotto
4 Koldo Fernandez De Larrea (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
5 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step

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